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Brunet-García creates a distinctive identity for Yellow House

Posted by Denise M. Reagan on Aug 31, 2017 10:37 AM

When Hope McMath contacted Brunet-García about creating a visual identity for what would become Yellow House, the team strived to create a look as lyrical as the name. 

Yellow House Roof Comparison.jpg

“Where the combination of simple elements is as poetic as the simple words that create the name,” said Eduardo Sarmiento, Brunet-García creative director and vice president. 

Yellow House is a place where Art + Action create change. The space serves as a catalyst for personal and collective growth by displaying thought-provoking exhibitions, hosting public events, and promoting community dialogue. Yellow House will explore topics as varied as racial and gender equity, universal human rights, environmental sustainability, and the untold stories of people and neighborhoods that have shaped our history. Yellow House is more than a physical space; it is a hub for educational outreach and collaborations among artists, writers, organizations, and communities. 

Brunet-García held several strategic brainstorming sessions with McMath and attended a private tour of Yellow House and the CoRK Arts District to understand the collaboration she envisioned having with the community.

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“As easy as it is to listen to someone as eloquent and thoughtful as Hope McMath describe the vision for her new organization, it was still critical for the team to internalize the various aspects of her work,” said Account Manager Chad Villarroel. “We hung onto every word.”

Although McMath had an inkling of the name for her new project, Brunet-García exhausted several possibilities before helping her ultimately choose Yellow House. Armed with the newly chosen name, the team wrote messages to frame the main attributes behind the brand.

Both the history and the location of Yellow House held special meaning for McMath.

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Neighbors often referred to the house at Phyllis and King streets as yellow, even though it was a dirty beige. McMath was struck by the connection to her grandfather’s yellow house in Ohio, which she recalled as the place where she became politically conscious. 

Yellow House has ties to art history as well. In 1888, Vincent van Gogh rented a house painted yellow in Arles, France. His desire for company and a sounding board guided him to turn the space into a “studio of the south” where artists could live and work together.

Jacksonville’s Yellow House sits at a crossroads of communities in Jacksonville, located across the street from the CoRK Arts District and just south of Interstate 10 near the Lackawanna neighborhood.

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“Through our site visit and discussions with Hope and her collaborators, we came to understand the special sense of physical place of the house, as well as the figurative meaning of the house as safe haven for ideas, artists, and exploration,” said Associate Creative Director Aerien Mull. “The concept of the roof as a physical and conceptual shelter came from those discussions.”

The creative team’s mission was to build a brand identity that was as big and resonant as the mission for her arts-centric, community-focused organization—to leverage the power of art to transform communities.

“We wanted to create a brand that is distinctive and flexible,” Sarmiento said, “a rich visual language you can recognize, even without seeing the logo.”

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“We knew we needed a strong brand to match the passion of the mission and make it stand out from a traditional museum or gallery space,” Mull said. “We also needed it to match the fast-paced, urgent nature of her work and a wide variety of art, photos, and mediums. 

The team drew inspiration from social movement and activism design. Having worked with museums with strict art usage rights, McMath wanted the brand to live with, and even within, the artwork. Through workshops and a mood board exercise, the agency converged on the aesthetic she was seeking.

“The same thing she looks for in her printmaking: bold, contemporary, and dynamic with a human touch,” Mull said.

Yellow House Small Matters Poster.jpg

“Hope didn’t want to create a brand that was too safe; neither did we,” Sarmiento said.

The simple icon based on the actual slope of the Yellow House roofline helped the brand come to life as it started to interact with art and words. Everything under the roof could be easily understood as having an association with the brand. Images could easily go underneath, within, or integrate with the mark. The mark itself could be recreated in any medium, meaning the power of the brand could be drawn, painted, tagged, chalked, sprayed, printed, cut, or assembled easily—by anyone—giving the power of art to the community it serves.

“The simple and distinctive shape points upwards, as a symbol of the organization’s goal to move through social issues and move the community forward,” Mull said.

“The Yellow House visual identity had to establish a dialogue with the art,” Sarmiento said. “This brand should be active, inspire action, be seen and felt as an alive brand with a distinct point of view.”

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Brunet-García designed stationery and business cards, animated teasers, posters, programmed digital invitations for the debut exhibition, and created customized packages for local media.

“We aimed to equip Hope with a brand and materials she needed to launch and sustain her important presence in the community and beyond,” Villarroel said.

“I know it is a successful branding campaign, because when people see me, they don’t say, ‘I am excited about what you are doing,’” McMath said. “Instead they say, ‘I am excited about Yellow House’ or ‘I can’t wait to come visit Yellow House.’”